2021 Holiday Bowl Canceled After UCLA Withdrew Because of COVID-19 Issues

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IV

UCLA defensive back Martell Irby, center, reacts to a play during the second half of an NCAA college football game against California Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, in Pasadena, Calif. UCLA won 42-14. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

The Holiday Bowl was officially canceled Wednesday after UCLA withdrew from the NC State matchup Tuesday because of COVID-19 issues.  

SDCCU Holiday Bowl @HolidayBowl

<a href="https://t.co/XezfwEzsJ4">pic.twitter.com/XezfwEzsJ4</a>

Per Fox Sports and The Athletic's Bruce Feldman, UCLA had just two available interior defensive linemen and a "converted linebacker as the backup nose guard," though the Bruins were still going to play before reportedly having more COVID-19 issues pop up Tuesday.

It's the latest bowl game to be canceled because of COVID-19 concerns. The Arizona Bowl (Boise State vs. Central Michigan), Military Bowl (Boston College vs. East Carolina), Wasabi Fenway Bowl (Virginia vs. SMU) and Hawai'i Bowl (Hawai'i vs. Memphis) were also canceled. 

A number of other bowl games have had to pivot to different matchups amid the pandemic. The Sun Bowl scooped up Central Michigan to face Washington State after Miami withdrew from the game, while the Gator Bowl added Rutgers to take on Wake Forest after Texas A&M pulled out. 

The cancellation is a major disappointment for both UCLA and NC State. The 8-4 Bruins had their first winning season under Chip Kelly and were heading to their first bowl game since 2017. 

Stewart Mandel @slmandel

It took four seasons for Chip Kelly to get UCLA to a bowl game only to have to pull out the day of the game.

The 9-3 Wolfpack, meanwhile, finished the season ranked 18th and were looking for their first 10-win season since 2002. 

NC State Football @PackFootball

Heartbroken to not be able to compete one more time this season. We were informed a short time ago that our opponent would be unable to play this evening.

Postseason heartbreak for COVID-19 reasons has become an unfortunate storyline for NC State this year. The school's baseball team had to pull out of the College Baseball World Series because of COVID-19 protocols in June, just a game away from reaching the final.